Mr. Hoppe, I was director of external affairs for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in the late 1980s and I hope I can provide some perspective. Both Dick Lugar and Bill Hudnut were supportive of the arts as mayors of Indianapolis. It was during the 1980s that the Circle Theatre and Indiana Theatre were renovated for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and Indiana Repertory Theatre. The Indianapolis Zoo was moved to White River Park and Eiteljorg Museum was built.
Those of us in the culture field complained about the focus on sports, both amateur sports and professional. But the Pan Am Games came to Indy and arts institutions were highlighted in the broadcasts. And I understood why the Colts were spirited away from Baltimore. The fact is that the ISO or IRT would never bring the national attention to the city that a Sunday or Monday Night Football broadcast would bring.
And even then, those of us that fundraised for the arts were concerned about graying audiences, a small cadre of donors, and shared board members.
The one thing that has changed in the last 25 years is that Indianapolis in the 1980s had more statewide corporate headquarters with the resultant leadership that invested in the city for the long run. This was before the the banking consolidation that swept the US. But the wave of mergers and consolidations and globalization has affected most every city in the Midwest.
It is very disconcerting to see the conflict at the ISO. I have great fondness for the orchestra and its music. For this dispute to be ended without destroying the institution, city leadership must intervene to bring both parties to the table and serve as an honest broker. In 1987, I designed an annual fund campaign around the theme that the ISO was the music of the city, and without it, there would be nothing but noise. The same is true today. The orchestra is the musical driving force of Indianapolis, and like a great symphony, it brings together disparate elements into a melodic whole. Indianapolis cannot be without its musical soul.
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